The first black woman vice-chairman of the West Midlands Police Authority has been removed from the post by her Labour colleagues.
Birmingham city councillor Yvonne Mosquito was ditched from the authority at the party’s annual group meeting.
The decision stunned friends who had assumed her re-election as the authority’s Birmingham Labour representative would go through unchallenged. But she lost out to Aston councillor Muhammed Afzal.
Coun Mosquito (Lab Nechells) has been a member of the police authority for eight years, latterly as vice-chairman, and had been tipped to become chairman when the position becomes vacant. She is also one of the favourites to be selected as Labour parliamentary candidate for the Ladywood constituency when Clare Short steps down at the next General Election.
Coun Mosquito is one of very few black women to hold high-profile public office and the decision to replace her prompted warnings about the ethnic balance of the police authority.
The Rev Derek Webley, who will now be the only black member of the authority, said: "Obviously the process by which the Labour Party chooses its representatives is a matter for the Labour Party. But from my own personal perspective Yvonne’s contribution has been very valuable and balanced over the years."
Mr Webley said the authority gained "added value" by having a representative ethnic mix.
He added: "This is a very delicate situation. It would not be helpful to comment further."
Bishop Joe Aldred, chairman of the Council for Black-Led Churches, said: "Clearly, it is in our interests that the police authority has adequate representation from the different ethnic groups that it serves."
The Labour group recommendation will go forward to the leaders of the seven West Midlands metropolitan councils for a final decision.
But it was by no means certain last night that Coun Afzal would get on to the police authority.
The political balance of councils across the region swung towards the Conservatives in the local authority elections earlier this month, which is likely to result in Labour losing places on the authority. The party may find itself forced to hand over its one Birmingham place on the authority to the Tories.
Ian Ward, deputy leader of Birmingham City Council Labour group, said members were perfectly entitled to put their names forward for positions of responsibility and it was a matter for colleagues to vote.
Coun Ward (Lab Shard End) added: "Democracy is a controversial thing."
Coun Mosquito was unavailable for comment.